August 29, 2023

Sitrep for Aug. 28–29, 2023 (as of 8 a.m.)

Strikes on Ukrainian Territory

Due to the large volume of reports of strikes and attacks, this sitrep will only cover those that resulted in significant destruction or casualties.

The death toll from a Russian missile attack on an oil mill in the village of Hoholeve, Poltava region, on the night of Aug. 28 has risen to four.

According to Oleksandr Prokudin, Head of the Kherson Regional Military Administration, a 63-year-old woman was killed, and a 58-year-old man was injured, in an attack on Aug. 28 on the village of Sadove, located near Antonivka on the right bank of the Dnipro river, Kherson region.

On Aug. 27, a 39-year-old woman was killed and a 16-year-old girl was injured in an attack on the village of Odnorobivka, Kharkiv region. An artillery strike damaged a residential building and a retail kiosk.

Due to repeated attacks, Ukrainians authorities have decided to evacuate children from the most frequently attacked areas of the Zaporizhzhia region.

According to the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine, on Aug. 28, in the occupied town of Enerhodar, a kamikaze drone attacked the military-civilian administration building, which, reportedly, was used to house "Kadyrovtsy" [nominally National Guard and Police units loyal to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov] (Akhmat-1 units of the Rosgvardia [the National Guard of Russia]). Judging by CCTV footage, the drone hit the building with a Public reception of the United Russia party [Putin’s ruling party] name plate on it. Significant damage was apparently not inflicted, although the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine reported on casualties. There have been no statements from the pro-Russian administration so far. Enerhodar is within the range of FPV kamikaze drones, especially given the possible use of signal boosters. There is no independent information on "Kadyrovtsy" being deployed in Enerhodar, however it is possible, since there is no intense fighting in this area.

The Financial Times published an article describing the training process of Ukrainian servicemen in Germany. According to European trainers, "the age and ability of the soldiers they are sent varies wildly" probably due to the lack of personnel in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the ongoing mobilization in Ukraine, which covers various categories of citizens. Martin Bonn, a Dutch brigadier general who is deputy head of the multinational EU training mission noted that he sometimes experienced friction with older Ukrainian commanders who were trained in Soviet times and sometimes "think they know better." However, according to him, "interpreters are challenge number one."

Recently, pro-Russian sources widely circulated news about events within the 205th Motorized Rifle Brigade on the Kherson axis: soldiers reached out to pro-Russian military bloggers, asking them to shed light on their issues. However, when the situation reached higher-ranking officers (who allegedly promised the bloggers to address the matter), blame was placed on those who had raised the complaint instead of those who had brought the situation within the brigade to a critical point. The brigade’s personnel suffered from a lack of artillery and drone support during offensive operations (soldiers needed to gain a foothold on the islands of the Dnipro river under enemy fire) and other problems.

It is worth noting that active combat is not taking place in this area: more than three weeks have passed since the previous Ukrainian sorties on the left bank near the village of Kozachi Laheri (when a group led by Major Tomov was captured).

Volunteers and the CIT team, in collaboration with Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet], conducted an investigation on candidates running for legislatures in the occupied territories during the upcoming elections in Russia scheduled for Sept. 8-10. We examined their biographies: among the candidates are local residents, including collaborators, housewives, retirees, students or unemployed individuals. There are also those who have participated in many Russian elections before but have never been elected anywhere.

An unknown individual attacked an Al Jazeera journalist who was conducting a live broadcast in Arabic near the Wagner Center building in Saint Petersburg. The man addressed her in English, demanding that she speak in Russian while in Russia, and then struck her on the head. Later, he was apprehended in Petrozavodsk, and it turned out that he had previously been convicted of fraud.

Preparations for the funeral of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the defunct owner of the Wagner Group, appear to be underway in Saint Petersburg. The Fontanka media outlet has reported the installation of metal detector frames at the Serafimovskoye Cemetery. Russian President's spokesman Dmitry Peskov has stated that all arrangements concerning the funeral are being handled by Prigozhin's family. It remains unclear whether  Putin will attend the funeral.

Continuing the trend, raids on locations frequented by migrants persist in various Russian cities as authorities seek out individuals who have gained Russian citizenship but still have not registered for compulsory military service. On Aug. 28, one such operation occurred in the trade areas of Perm. This ongoing development underscores the persisting challenge of personnel shortages within the Russian Armed Forces. Earlier, we highlighted advertisements promoting contract-based military service specifically targeting labor migrants from Central Asian nations. Notably, this approach was employed by authorities in Sakhalin as a means to fulfill their recruitment quota for contract soldiers.

In Yaroslavl, a number of law enforcement entities, including the Rosgvardia and the Federal Penitentiary Service, organized a job fair supplemented by a military equipment exhibition. The Ministry of Defense established a mobile station for individuals seeking to sign a contract for military service. Visual evidence shows an absence of any significant number of individuals expressing interest in entering into contracts. It is possible that the scarcity of personnel within law enforcement agencies might be attributed to, in part, a number of individuals resigning from their positions for the prospect of more lucrative salaries offered by the Ministry of Defense.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in an interview with Ukrainian media, stated that Ukraine's security guarantees must encompass both "the shield and the sword." According to him, these guarantees will emerge as Ukraine proceeds towards NATO membership and will be fortified through a bilateral agreement with the United States. He draws parallels with the Israeli model of agreement with the US, in which a nation receives weapons, technology, training and financial support to ensure a qualitative military advantage over other forces in the region.

We consider this a rather challenging endeavor, given the scale of Russia's military and defense industry, which far surpasses that of Israel's geopolitical adversaries and neighbors.

The Ukrainska Pravda [Ukrainian media outlet] reported that in 2022, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense signed several contracts with the Polish company Alfa, which mostly remained unfulfilled. The initial contract for the delivery of 20,000 ballistic helmets, 20,000 armored vests and 40,000 armor plates valued at approximately €24.5 million was signed in April, with deliveries scheduled for May 2022. The company failed to meet the deadline and only provided the armored vests and plates by mid-summer, delivering only 16,000 ballistic helmets with 11,000 of them returned as they were unusable. The company also failed to deliver on another contract, which was signed at the end of April 2022. Despite these setbacks, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense continued to do business with Alfa and is now trying to recover €27 million in prepayments and about €13 million in penalties for failed deliveries. As noted by the media outlet, Alfa was founded in 2005 and has not been previously recognized as a major contractor by the press. It is unclear how the company secured such large contracts after the start of the full-scale invasion.

On Aug. 27, Zelenskyy announced the preparation of a bill that equates corruption during wartime to high treason. This legislative proposal will be submitted to the Verkhovna Rada [the unicameral parliament of Ukraine] for discussion and adoption in the upcoming week.

Earlier, amid corruption concerns, Zelenskyy decided to dismiss heads of regional military commissariats and appoint former combat officers, who can no longer be in trenches due to health issues. "This system should be managed by people who know exactly what war is and why cynicism and bribery during war is high treason," the president said.

On Aug. 27, in Zakarpattia, a military commissar who had sustained a head injury died on his way to the hospital. Sergeant Vasyl Stetso joined the AFU after the full-scale invasion began and apparently became a military commissar after Zelenskyy's decision.

Germany has asked Greece to transfer 100 of its Leopard 1A5 tanks to Ukraine, in exchange for which the Swiss company Ruag will provide Greece with 100 tanks of the same type. In June 2023, this company attempted to offer these tanks to Germany for transfer to Ukraine, but the Swiss parliament banned the export. Whether the parliament will obstruct such circular supplies involving Greece remains uncertain.

On Aug. 28, prosecutors requested in absentia a 13-year prison sentence for the founder of the Conflict Intelligence Team project, Ruslan Leviev, and blogger Michael Nacke in a case related to "fake news" about the Russian Army. The court sentenced Leviev and Nacke to 11 years in prison each.